We’re All In This Together

Once upon a time, someone thought it necessary to improve my taste in movies by having me watch most of High School Musical before I had to fly back home to Central Florida, where I lived at the time.  The first High School Musical, at least, is a fascinating look at how Hollywood treats cliques.  The film’s elite, drama queen Sharpay and her brother, are rather fragile elites, since their domain is the school’s musicals, not normally the sort of event that draws a great deal of attention or as a high degree of status.  At least the other four teenagers have recognizable places, in that two boys are set up as jocks and two attractive young women in nerdface [1] are set up as an academic elite.  By the end of the first move the six of them are singing and dancing happily and saying that they are all in this together, showing that they have triumphed over the divisions that have led them to look down on each other.

Yet obviously this is not the case, if one looks at teenagers in their natural habitats, or adults for that matter.  The reason why the movie was able to have such an unrealistic ending is because for all of the diversity of the cast–a couple of white people, a latina, a couple of black people–the cast were all essentially products of the Disney machine, attractive young people who could sing, dance, and act.  None of them were socially awkward people with two left feet, for example, or jocks who were genuinely dismissive of the value of intellectual study or the aesthetic pleasures of acting, singing, and dancing.  To be sure, they could play these sorts of people in a more or less plausible fashion, but they were not this sort of people themselves.  In real life, a big part of the barrier to us acting as if we are all in this together, whatever “this” happens to be, is the fact that we genuinely see the world differently from other people, do not see people who are sufficiently different from us as people but rather as “others” or “outsiders” or “rejects” or something equally unpleasant, and do not realize that it is an act.  The actors and actresses of High School Musical were in on the fact that it was all pretend; most people are serious and in earnest about the roles that they choose to play, to the point where most people do not realize the extent that they are playing a role at all.

Yet there are times in this life where people can come to believe that they are all in this together.  Most of the time, this tends to happen when people perceive a common enemy that they unify against, or a common passion that moves them together.  Let us take, for example, the small and diverse group of people I work with.  We come from several countries and a wide variety of backgrounds.  We range from single and never married to married without children to married with children to single parents/grandparents.  Our interests range from financial speculation in cryptocurrencies [2] to reading large amounts of books to Greco-Roman wrestling or martial arts.  Some are morning people, some are night people, some are quiet, some talkative, some serious and some humorous, but we find a surprising amount in common given the frustrations that we have to deal with from outside.  There are a small number of people whose behavior tends to directly and negatively impact most of us, to the point where even if we may be very different people who would not frequently hang out for fun, we can get along and find a degree of fellow feeling in that we have common frustrations where the others are not to blame.  Hopefully this sort of phenomenon can become more common in life than it is.  We have enough common frustrations in life that we could be a lot more together in this than we are at present.

[1] This deserves some explanation.  Nerdface here refers to the way that those who are considered nerds in Hollywood movies are nearly always very attractive people who wear glasses or dress frumpy so that they may successfully pass as nerds at the beginning only to reveal their true beauty later on in the film that make them worthy of being desired by the handsome male lead.  Nerdface may be compared to other Hollywood habits like whiteface or blackface or yellowface where instead of casting people of a genuine quality they cast conventional leads and then use wardrobe and makeup to match the characterization.

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/13/tales-from-the-crypt/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/05/more-tales-from-the-crypt/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to We’re All In This Together

  1. Pingback: Movie Review: Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | Edge Induced Cohesion

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